ON SITE: Minister of Housing and the Environment Dr Roodal Moonilal greets site engineers during a tour yesterday of the highway construction site in Petite Morne, Ste Madeleine. —Photo: DAVE PERSAD

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...'Hundreds' in South ready to make way

By Sue-Ann Wayow sue-ann.wayow@trinidadexpress.com

THOSE who have to move in order to make way for the Solomon Hochoy Highway extension to Point Fortin will have access to the land being developed, so they can begin building new homes by February.

This according to Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal and Minister in the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure Stacy Roopnarine, who said hundreds of people were ready to take up the offer.

The ministers yesterday toured Petite Morne and Cedar Hill, where the land is being developed for hundreds of families who must relocate. A third settlement is being developed in Golconda.

Roopnarine said the three areas will accommodate different types of housing. Petite Morne is carded for residential purposes (people who owned property and land), Cedar Hill will be given to persons who are squatting on land in way of the proposed highway and Golconda will be utilised by farmers.

Moonilal said there were 715 lots at Cedar Hill and 400 lots at Petite Morne. He said, "Land is for residential purposes. The persons themselves will build. They will receive financial compensation for their property and they will have an option to purchase, at a reduced cost, land at Petite Morne to construct. Or they may just choose to take the financial contribution and not pay for the land. The squatters will be provided with a piece of land. We are dealing with the lots as far as possible to satisfy the needs of persons who have been on higher acreage, including farmers, to provide suitable and appropriate lots."

Roopnarine said the area at Petite Morne was 75 per cent developed. By the end of February, lots in the other areas should be ready for distribution.

She said, apart from the 50 people who already settled negotiations with the National Infrastructure Development Co Ltd (Nidco), many more were interested in selling and moving.

She said, "We also have before us just over 200 claims, which means that persons are interested in settling with the Government for their properties. They are interested in selling their properties to the State for the progress of the highway."

 Moonilal also visited the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) development at Mon Repos. San Fernando, and said he was impressed with the renovation work being done.

Refurbishment works on the apartment buildings began about a month ago at an approximate cost of $ 2 million, Moonilal said.

He said more work needed to be done and the Government will try to assist the residents in different ways.

Moonilal said 48 employees working on the refurbishing project were people who live in the buildings.

He said, "We intend to assist the residents in that area with amenities, including the upgrading of a basketball court, the inclusion of a fitness centre and we intend to collaborate with Nedco (National Entrepreneurship Development Co Ltd) to provide a small mini mart facility. I am always impressed by the residents there. They have an enormous amount of business and entrepreneurial  traits. We want to capture that to create more economic opportunity for the residents."

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